That Obama Dip

The chatter among political types is a new McClatchy poll released yesterday showing Obama’s support among whites in South Carolina slipping from 20 percent to 10 percent in the past week.

The obvious interpretation would be, Obama has somehow alienated whites, who must be gravitating toward Clinton. If this were the case, it would bode poorly for Obama on Super Tuesday, where white voters will dominate.

But the numbers suggest a different take. Obama’s numbers dropped among whites, but Clinton’s, at 36 percent, aren’t particularly high. Rather, it’s John Edwards who wins the category, with 40 percent support, up from 28 percent. If Obama has lost white voters, it appears to be to Edwards, not to Clinton.

Indeed, South Carolina voters appear to be gravitating toward their “own.” Edwards leads among white men. Hillary’s the favorite among white women. Obama commands a majority among black men. And the tie-breaker—black women—goes to Obama as well.

Yes, perhaps Obama’s radio attack ads hurt him among whites. Perhaps Bill’s loose lips hurt Hillary among blacks. But the way it looks, everyone is just drifting into their respective comfort zones.

Disclaimer: There are many polls out there. This is just one of them.